Meet Marc Nobbs, Erotic author
Marc Nobbs is an author unlike any I have ever heard of, he writes Erotic Romance, extremely rare for a man. The book shelves in Tescos these days are stacked with corny titles like :
Virgin for the Millionaires Bed (exclamation mark!!)
The married executive’s Secretary (gasp!)
Sold into the Harem of Lust (swoon!)
The Sheik’s English maiden (oohh Matron!)
.. and so on. It has become a guilty pleasure just reading the corny titles. Luckily none of them were Marc’s.
In fact I can only name one other male romance author, and that was Saddam Hussain. He wrote Zabibah and the King to relax after a hard day’s genocide. It was very popular with the CIA apparently. I digress.
Us British are a fairly buttoned-up lot. It isn’t just the climate, it is some deep-seeded sense of shame that seems to prevent us celebrating sex. We are monumentally underdeveloped in the sex department. Something we should consider given the fact that it is one of the last free pleasures we have left.
Mills and Boon, the famous Romance publishing house, only really started to make a profit during the first depression in the 1930s. Of course this was the days before the internet, but the online world compliments the written text, it hasn’t obliterated it. Marc is a fine example of how to combine the two. He innovated a youtube trailer for a book. Brilliant idea, Marc.
As a male romance writer shouldn’t you be on the World Wildlife endangered list?
You might be right about that – there aren’t that many male romance authors out there. Probably enough to count on one hand. Romance as a genre is dominated by women – not just as writers but also the readership is mostly women too.
In fact, Mills&Boon, that great bastion of romance writing will not allow their authors to have male names. They have a couple of men that write for them, but they have to use female pen names. And I believe there’s a publisher who won’t even entertain male writers at all for its romance imprint – but right now which one escapes me.
There are a few men who write gay romance on my publisher’s books – but even gay romance tends to be dominated by female writers too, believe it or not. That’s a whole discussion in itself.
But, I think what makes me even more endangered is the way I write. With the exception of a couple of short stories I wrote for ruthiesclub.com (which you can now read on my website) I write from the male protagonist’s point of view – highly unusual in romance writing.
The way I see it is that if I try and ‘get inside’ the heroine’s head, I won’t be able to pull it off because, let’s face it, it’s bloody hard for most men to know what goes on in a woman’s head. So I write from the point of view of the hero instead – I understand men’s brains. For the most part.
This, of course, means that my heroes are going to be different from the typical romantic hero that women write. It’s hard for a character to be distant, aloof and mysterious if you know what he’s feeling and thinking about. I’ve been told that my heroes are more like ‘real’ men that the fantasy kind you often encounter in romance. Is this a good thing? Maybe, maybe not. I think it will put off some readers from even giving the books a try, but I’ve yet to hear complaints from anyone who’s actually read them.
So it’s not just that I’m a bloke that writes romance that makes me different – it the way I write about it that makes me stand out. Like the tag line on my website says, I’m “Turning Romance on its Head”. Or trying to.
And who knows, maybe a few men will give the books a go too. I’m sure they’d like them if they did.
In your female-dominated (pardon the pun) trade, do you have to put up with much sexual discrimination?
I have to admit I expected some, but on the whole it’s been fine. My publisher doesn’t have a problem with my gender. I get along great with my editor and with other romance writers.
I think if there is discrimination it comes from the reviewers. So far I’ve only had positive reviews, but my books don’t seem to get as many reviews as some other writers. Maybe that’s because the reviewers are avoiding my books because I’m a man. Or maybe they haven’t picked any of my books up because they are going for ‘bigger’ names that they recognise.
Honestly, I don’t know which it is. But what I do know is that reviewers that have reviewed my work have all liked it.
Who was the best erotic romance writer in years gone past? Hemingway, Byron, Shakespeare, Rochester?
Good question. I don’t think there are many writers who write quite the same sort of thing that passes for erotic romance today. Let’s be honest, as risqué as Shakespeare could get, he never went as far as describing which body parts went here, how often and for how long.
Modern Erotic Romance blends passion, sadness, plot, character development and heaps of graphic sex. My latest novel, “Kissed by a Rose”, has thirteen graphically described sex scenes spread across fifty-three chapters. There’s sex outdoors, in the shower and in the bath, a threesome, the couple download pornography from the internet and then make their own movie. It’s not all ‘throbbing members’ and ‘heaving bosoms’ but ‘real’ language describing what goes on. Some will find it offensive, some will find it a turn on. I’ve seen some submission guidelines from some publishers that demand a sex scene every chapter and where literally anything goes.
But what I write isn’t just erotica. It isn’t just about the sex. They are character driven stories with proper plots and proper conflict. In “Kissed by a Rose” the conflict is internal to the central relationship in the book. And I know it made both my editor and two ‘beta-readers’ cry in just the right places. In the piece I’m currently working on – provisionally titled “Eternally & Evermore” – the conflict is very much coming from outside the relationship in the form of a separate antagonist, much as it was in “Lost & Found”.
In the past, romance writers tended to close the bedroom door and let the couple have some privacy – or else they’d use a certain type of language to describe what was going on that allowed the books past the censors. Modern Erotic Romance isn’t about that. We slip into the bedroom with the couple to see what’s going on. I’ve been told that reading my books feels like watching a movie. But just not the sort of movie you’d expect to see on the BBC, if you know what I mean.
Did you take the cover photos yourself?
No. Phaze has a great art department that put the covers together for the three books I’ve published with them, “Charlotte’s Secret”, “Lost & Found” and “Kissed by a Rose”. I did have a lot of input into their design, which is why all three use my signature font, Scriptina. Of the three I have to admit that I like “Kissed by a Rose” the best. So simple and yet so achingly sexy.
The covers for all the ‘free’ short stories and the free novella on my website were put together by me. I took stock-photos I’ve found around the internet and done some cutting and airbrushing to turn them into covers.
I would have loved to have taken the photos myself – but I don’t know any women willing to pose for free. If you know any, give them my e-mail addy. lol
Would you be happy to see your work turned into films, in the genre of Tinto Brass or Jess Franco? (Google them)?
You know, I’ve even ‘cast’ a couple of my stories. Of course, I can’t really see Kiera Knightly wanting to take on these roles unless some of the scenes were toned down a bit. Rachel Stevens might go for it though since her singing career isn’t going too well right now. I live in hope. (funnily enough, I cast myself opposite both of them. lol)
Are some or all of the heroines fantasy women or are they based on women you have met? Are any of them based on women you wished you had spoken to, but hadn’t?
It varies. Sometimes the women I write are pure fantasy, sometimes they are based on someone I know or knew be them ex-lovers, wish-they-had-been-lovers or just someone I remember fondly for some reason. At least, that’s how they start out. But more often than not they take on a life of their own and end-up not being based on anyone.
For example, Beth from “Lost & Found” was originally based on a friend I have in the States who I exchange regular e-mails with. We’ve never met anywhere other than online and the premise of the story to start with was a scenario in which we could meet. But as the story developed, Beth stopped being based on my e-mail friend and became a person in her own right.
This happens to all the best characters – any writer will tell you that. If you’ve created the charcter well enough, you no longer have to think about how they might react in any given situation – they’ll tell you how they would react. It’s odd but my characters are as real to me as any of the people I work with on a day to day basis and more real than most of the people I pass in the street.
You are widely traveled, where is the best location for romance, geographically speaking?
Paris. It’s a cliché, to be sure, but there’s just something about the place. I couldn’t even tell you what it is. For me, London comes a close second followed by the dramatic scenery of Wales. There’s a scene in “Kissed by a Rose” where the hero is sitting on a bench on the sea front looking out at the Dolphins leaping out of the water in the distance. Okay, so “Kissed by a Rose” takes place in a town I made up, but substitute Aberystwyth in place of Westmouth and you have a romantic scene straight from my university days.
Where is the best place to propose to a lady? (I popped the question on the cliffs of Santorini)
Given my last answer this won’t surprise you but… Top of the Eiffel Tower, looking out over Paris.
What kind of following do you have? Are they all women?
I wish I knew. I think all of the correspondence I’ve had in respect of of work published with Phaze has been from women, but that hasn’t been an awful lot to be honest. I get a lot more feedback from the story I post on ‘free’ websites. That’s partly because the ‘free’ websites actively encourage readers to contact the authors. Most of the authors are doing it as a hobby and the only ‘payment’ they receive it reader feedback. Whereas if you’ve already paid for a book, I think most people think they’ve rewarded the author enough and don’t feel the need to write to him/her.
It would be nice to hear from more readers and find out what they think, but for now i’ll just have to make do with the royalty payments.
Honestly, now, do the lads down the pub know about all this? What do they think?
No. Do you think I’m stupid? Can you even begin to imagine what they’d say?
You’re a man of many talents, not in the least fatherhood. What do you like to do to relax?
Actually, writing is my way of relaxing. I know that sounds silly, but if I didn’t enjoy it then I wouldn’t do it
Does your wife proof-read the love scenes?
She does sometimes, but only if she’s feeling frisky.
You wrote a book called Sun, Sea and Shagging. Were you in Malaga the same week as me or something? Where is the best spot for all that?
I’ve never actually been to Spain at all. This story was product of an over-active imagination and too many episodes of “Brits Abroad” or some other satellite channel rubbish about lager-lout Brits getting carried away on the continent.
Has the erotic romance industry come a long way (sorry, another bad pun) since it’s heady early days?
These days you can find Erotic Romance across a range of genres from paranormal to Sci-Fi, from suspense to thriller. You’ll even find gay romance written by gay men, gay women and straight women. More of the publishers are putting out print book as well as e-books. Ellora’s Cave averages sales of 70,000 books per month, which is huge. I think erotic romance is better served online than in print. Given the audience is mostly women, and the nature of the literature, I think most women find it easier to download books than walk into Tesco and pick it off the shelf. So when we get a good quality, affordable e-reader, then it will only get bigger. Yes, we have the Sony Reader, but it uses a propriety format, and we have the Amazon Kindle but it’s only available in the US, and both are just too expensive right now. IF we can get a similar reader on the market for around £50, then e-books, and erotic romance, will really take off.
Author of Contemporary Erotic Romance
Turning Romance on its head
“Kissed by a Rose” – His Power, His Pleasure, His Pain
A New Contemporary Erotic Romance Novel
Buy Now – http://www.king-cart.com/Phaze/product=Kissed%20by%20a%20Rose/exact_match=exact
Search Twitter for #KbaR – http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23KbaR
View the Trailer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaQAk3H2VKM
“Charlotte’s Secret”, A Contemporary Erotic Romance
Available Now from Phaze Books
“Lost & Found”, A Contemporary Erotic Romance
Available Now from Phaze Books